Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 29th, 2022

How politics has poisoned the Evangelical church

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Back in June, the Atlantic Monthly had a lengthy and compelling article by Tim Alberta (no paywall) on how in the US divisions are opening up in Evangelical churches and indeed in Christian churches in general. I found it absorbing, and it is difficult to know where it will lead — but it is pretty clearly not to a stronger Christian church, since in many of the churches Christianity has taken a back seat to conservative politics, which now is the focus.

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 9:21 pm

A City Fights Back Against Heavyweight Cars

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David Zipper reports for Bloomberg:

Imagine that you, a city resident, are contemplating swapping out your mid-sized sedan for a full-sized pickup truck. And not just any pickup truck; your eye has fallen upon a heavy-duty one, like the Chevy Silverado HD or the Ford F-250. These are machines intended for towing and hauling, but they’re increasingly popular as passenger vehicles in the US, despite their massive proportions. At 6,695 pounds, the F-250 is 23 inches taller and more than twice as heavy as a Honda Accord.

Such oversized vehicles exacerbate problems across all kinds of communities, but none more so than dense urban neighborhoods full of pedestrians and cyclists. Driving a large pickup or SUV increases the likelihood you’ll kill or injure someone; its thirsty power plant (the F-250 gets 15 mpg) spews more air pollution and greenhouse emissions.

If you’re a city or state leader, you have a limited arsenal of tools available to discourage residents from operating these behemoths on local streets. A proposal from the District of Columbia would add a new one: The city is poised to require owners of vehicles weighing over 6,000 pounds to pay an annual $500 vehicle registration fee], almost seven times the cost to register a modest sedan. No other US jurisdiction has created such a forceful financial disincentive against the biggest, heaviest car models.

“You can’t ban sales of these things,” says Mary Cheh, a D.C. councilmember who developed the new fee structure, “but you can make them pay their own way.”

Other state and local leaders alarmed by “truck bloat” would be wise to study the D.C. law, which represents a first-of-its-kind effort to address the negative externalities — or costs borne by others — associated with larger, heavier SUVs and trucks. To date, the federal government has largely ignored such societal downsides. Although pedestrian fatalities are surging in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently declined to add pedestrian crashworthiness to its crash test ratings program, which could have penalized the biggest models. (Most other developed countries added these tests years ago.)

D.C.’s approach revolves around . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 7:00 pm

Broccolini du jour

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Prep board on which sit: a tin of bittersweet paprika, a jar of "Umami Bomb," a jar of Georgia Gold turmeric paste, 4 large peeled garlic cloves, 1/4 large red onion, two sprigs fresh tarragon, 1 bunch of broccolini, 3 largish mushrooms, a lemon, 2 spring (or BBQ) onions, a large jalapeño, a small piece of tempeh, and 4 small knobs of fresh ginger.

I’ve not blogged a dish for a while, and tonight I decided to cook a bunch (not meaning “a lot,” but one bunch) of broccolini, and the rest came along for the ride, though I did have the BBQ onions in mind.

Drizzle my 12″ MSMK nonstick skillet with about

• 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (actual olive oil)

Then prep the vegetables, starting (always) with garlic, since it must rest 10-15 after being cut up. So:

• 4 large cloves Russian red garlic, sliced thin (with my garlic mandoline)
• 4 small knobs fresh ginger root, minced or chopped small (not grated)
• 1/4 large red onion, chopped
• 2 BBQ/spring onions, chopped including leaves
• 3 largish mushrooms, halved vertically then sliced
• 1 piece of Du Puy lentil + Kamut wheat tempeh, diced small
• 1 large jalapeño, cap removed, quartered lengthwise, and chopped
• 1 lemon, ends removed, then diced
• 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves stripped from stem and chopped 
• about 1 teaspoon Spanish bittersweet smoked paprika
• no Umami Bomb — decided against it at the last minute
• 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, as much for antioxidants as flavor
• 1 teaspoon Georgia Gold turmeric purée, and therefore:
• 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

A stir-fry with a slight orange cast from turmeric,  Visible are broccolini, mushrooms, onion, and tarragon.

The tarragon was purchased on a whim, and this seemed a good place to use it. Having the tarragon made me decide against Umami Bomb (which is added after cooking). I wanted to get the full effect of the tarragon.

I put all the prepped vegetables in the skilled as I went, adding the garlic at the end (when it had rested 14 minutes). I stirred the vegetables to mix, turned the burner to “3” (of 10), and covered the skillet.

Once the glass lid was covered inside with condensation, I stirred the veggies to make sure the skillet was now hot. I added:

• about 2 tablespoons water

And put the lid back on. I cooked it for about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooking was well underway. Then I turned the burner to 200ºF, the timer to 10 minutes, covered the skillet, and came in to start this post. 

When the timer went off, I had a bowl of it. Extremely nice. Tarragon comes through strongly, of course, and the lemon was a good addition. Nice warmth from the one jalapeño. Good mouth feel and chewiness from broccolini and tempeh. Glad to get the turmeric, which I have been missing.

A success.  

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 6:18 pm

A Top DeSantis Aide Behind the Martha’s Vineyard Migrant Flight Is In Some Deep Shit

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Jay Kuo writes in The Status Kuo:

Something about the migrant “relocation” flight to Martha’s Vineyard, orchestrated by the DeSantis administration this past summer, has always bothered me, even beyond the inhumanity of it all: the price tag.

The charter flight company that actually flew the migrants, Vertol Systems, received a contract worth over $1.5 million from the state of Florida. That single flight cost the state a whopping $615,000, or around $12,500 per person. Vertol received a second payment of $950,000 just two weeks later.

This didn’t go unnoticed by the Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA), a non-profit that sued the DeSantis administration in October of 2022 for withholding records relating to the migrant flight operation. The FLCGA brought its suit under a “sunshine” law designed to maintain transparency in government.

DeSantis’s office bitterly fought the suit but eventually lost, finally releasing records right before the Christmas weekend, no doubt hoping to avoid a big press story. Media nevertheless began picking up what could become a major scandal swirling around Larry Keefe, DeSantis’s so-called “czar” of public safety in Florida. And long time critics of the DeSantis administration, such as lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder, took to social media to amplify Keefe’s apparent corruption.

Larry Keefe appears to be crooked AF

It turned out, probably to no one’s surprise, that Vertol Systems has connections to the DeSantis administration. Vertol was a longtime client of Keefe when he was a partner at a Florida corporate law firm, and Keefe was very close to its CEO, James Montgomerie.

Here’s how crimey these two guys apparently were. According to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 5:25 pm

Privacy Is OK

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I saw a negative comment on Mastodon about Reid Blackman’s article in the NY Times (no paywall) on Signal and why unrestrained privacy is a bad thing. I read the article and I didn’t understand what the problem was, though I was perfectly willing the accept that there may indeed be a problem. I was just unable to see it, and the 500-character format was insufficient to describe the problem to those who, like me, were ignorant of what it was.

Now, thankfully, Tim Bray has written an explainer that provides the insight I wanted. He writes:

I hate to write a piece just saying Someone Is Wrong On The Internet. But Reid Blackman’s The Signal App and the Danger of Privacy at All Costs (in the NYTimes, forsooth) is not just wrong but dangerously misleading. I haven’t seen a compact explainer on why, so here goes.

Blackman’s description of what Signal does is accurate: Provides an extremely private communication path among individuals and groups; private to the extent that (a nonprofit) doesn’t even know who’s talking to whom, let alone what they’re saying.

Blackman argues that this is dangerous because bad people could use it to plan nefarious activities and the legal authorities wouldn’t be able to eavesdrop on them and stop them. Indeed, bad people can and (I’m sure) do use cryptography to evade surveillance.

So, let’s agree that Signal offers an upside and a downside. Up: Your privacy is protected from snoopers, be they maleficent governments or ordinary criminals. Down: It’s hard to wiretap the bad guys.

So, can we remove the downside without doing damage? Blackman says little about that, except the phrase “Whether law enforcement should tap our phones on the condition that a warrant is obtained…”

I’m sorry to be the bearer of of bad news, but it’s simply not possible to address the downside without completely shattering the upside. Here are three reasons why.

  1. When you say “law enforcement”, who exactly do you mean? Employees of the United States? Of Oregon? Of Crow Wing County, MN? Of Italy? Of China? How are you going to sort out the jurisdictional disputes, and how are you going to ensure that only “good” law-enforcement organizations get to snoop?
  2. A Signal eavesdropping capability would become the Holy Grail for every global organized-crime organization, national-security agency, and teenage hacker from Belarus. They’re pretty smart people at Signal, but there aren’t that many of them, and in a fight between them and a world-wide army of attackers, I know who I’m betting on.
  3. Obviously, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 4:35 pm

What happened to Southwest Airlines?

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Larry Lonero has a great explainer on Facebook:

I’ve been a pilot for Southwest Airlines for over 35 years. I’ve given my heart and soul to Southwest Airlines during those years. And quite honestly Southwest Airlines has given its heart and soul to me and my family.

Many of you have asked what caused this epic meltdown. Unfortunately, the frontline employees have been watching this meltdown coming like a slow motion train wreck for sometime. And we’ve been begging our leadership to make much needed changes in order to avoid it. What happened yesterday started two decades ago.

Herb Kelleher was the brilliant CEO of SWA until 2004. He was a very operationally oriented leader. Herb spent lots of time on the front line. He always had his pulse on the day to day operation and the people who ran it. That philosophy flowed down through the ranks of leadership to the front line managers. We were a tight operation from top to bottom. We had tools, leadership and employee buy in. Everything that was needed to run a first class operation. When Herb retired in 2004 Gary Kelly became the new CEO.

Gary was an accountant by education and his style leading Southwest Airlines became more focused on finances and less on operations. He did not spend much time on the front lines. He didn’t engage front line employees much. When the CEO doesn’t get out in the trenches the neither do the lower levels of leadership.

Gary named another accountant to be Chief Operating Officer (the person responsible for day to day operations). The new COO had little or no operational background. This trickled down through the lower levels of leadership, as well.

They all disengaged the operation, disengaged the employees and focused more on Return on Investment, stock buybacks and Wall Street. This approach worked for Gary’s first 8 years because we were still riding the strong wave that Herb had built.

But as time went on the operation began to deteriorate. There was little investment in upgrading technology (after all, how do you measure the return on investing in infrastructure?) or the tools we needed to operate efficiently and consistently. As the frontline employees began to see the deterioration in our operation we began to warn our leadership. We educated them, we informed them and we made suggestions to them. But . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Another terrific slant — and Dr. Selby

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Shaving setup with Simpson Wee Scot tiny silvertip badger shaving brush, the white handle bearing Alexander Simpson's signature, net to a ribbed white plastic tub of shaving soap with a blue slant razor lying on the lid. To the right of the soap and razor is a small bottle of Irisch Moose after shave.

Peter Strand commented on yesterday’s shave that Maggard Razors now offers Dr. Selby 3X Concentrated Shaving Cream, so naturally I brought my tub of Dr. Selby’s out — any excuse will do when I get such a fine lather. I chose my Simpson Wee Scot to do the honors, and it did an excellent job.

I should note that my brush was made by Simpson years before Vulfix bought the company, and I don’t know how well the Wee Scot has fared. At one time making a Wee Scot was the final test that capped one’s apprenticeship, as noted in an earlier comment by Gary Young, noting that the Wee Scot is the only brush that bears Alexander Simpson’s signature. 

The little brush did a good job today, and I again enjoyed the special lather — indeed like a shaving cream lather — that I get with this product. 

I mentioned yesterday that my new Phantom Blue double-slant razor was a little intimidating. As is so often the case, my fears were groundless. The razor turns out to be totally comfortable and also extremely efficient — my face feels particularly smooth following today’s shave. I highly recommend this razor, in any of its manifestations. (Note: the page includes a couple of razors that, though slants, are not double slants.)

Three very comfortable passes — the razor’s feel on the face is totally non-threatening, and its feel in the hand is also quite comfortable — left my face amazingly smooth. I rubbed in a drop of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum and followed that with a splash of Irisch Moos After Shave. 

What a great start to the day!

The tea this morning is Murchie’s CBC Radio Blend: “choice Ceylon & China black teas, fragrant Jasmines and fresh green teas, tickled with lemon.”

Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2022 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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